US 20060270525 A1
Trampoline accessories are described herein that may be affixed to a trampoline system to facilitate the playing of a game. These trampoline accessories may include a soccer net, a rebounding surface that will bounce a ball back to the thrower, and a catch panel that will gather the ball when the ball is thrown against the panel. These accessories may be added to either the trampoline frame of the trampoline enclosure. Deflective netting may be provided adjacent the accessories to prevent the ball and users from entering the space below the trampoline rebounding mat.
1. A trampoline system having a safety enclosure therearound, the trampoline system comprising;
a frame having a plurality of legs;
a rebounding mat coupled to the frame by a plurality of springs;
a plurality of poles, wherein each of the legs is attached to a separate pole and wherein each of the poles extend above the rebounding mat;
the safety enclosure comprising a flexible material coupled to the poles and the rebounding mat; and
an independent game playing accessory, wherein the accessory is positioned between two of the poles or two of the legs, and wherein the accessory is designed such that it is capable of receiving the impact of a ball.
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13. An independent game playing accessory sized and configured for use with a trampoline system having a safety enclosure therearound, the trampoline system comprising a frame having a plurality of legs, a rebounding mat coupled to the frame by a plurality of springs, a plurality of poles, wherein each of the legs is attached to a separate pole and wherein each of the poles extend above the rebounding mat, and the safety enclosure comprising a flexible material coupled to the poles and the rebounding mat, wherein the accessory is sized and configured to be positioned between two of the poles or two of the legs, and wherein the accessory is designed such that it is capable of receiving the impact of a ball.
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This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/684,106, filed May 24, 2005 entitled “Trampoline Accessories.” This provisional application is expressly incorporated herein by reference.
Trampolines are widely known and used for a variety of recreational and athletic purposes. Recreational and “backyard” use of trampolines is very popular. Parents often buy a trampoline so that their children can enjoy hours of diversion playing and “jumping” on the trampoline.
As a result of careless use of trampolines and poorly designed/manufactured systems, personal injury has occurred. Such injuries have resulted from a person jumping too close to the edge of the trampoline surface such that the person would either (1) fall off of the trampoline or would (2) strike the frame, a tree, or another hard surface positioned proximate the trampoline's boundary. Of course, such injuries are a grave concern for many trampoline manufacturers and trampoline enthusiasts.
In order to prevent these types of injuries, trampolines have recently been sold and produced having a flexible fence or enclosure that surrounds the perimeter of the trampoline's rebounding surface. One example of this type of trampoline is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,845 (which will be referred to herein as the “'845 patent” and is expressly incorporated herein by reference). In these types of trampolines, any person that jumps on the trampoline will be maintained on the interior of the trampoline. Thus, when the child approaches the edge of the trampoline's rebounding mat, the enclosure will prevent the child from falling off the trampoline. Likewise, because the enclosure is made of a flexible material (such as netting, mesh, etc.), the enclosure will also prevent the child from harmfully impacting the trampoline's frame or other hard surfaces. In this manner, the enclosure will greatly increase the safety of the trampoline.
Furthermore, the trampoline with the enclosure allows children to play a variety of different games using the enclosure and other equipment (such as balls, etc.). In fact, the '845 patent teaches a variety of games that may be played by children using the trampoline and the enclosure. Unfortunately, many of the games listed in the '845 patent are difficult to play and are not interesting to older children/teenagers. Accordingly, there is a need in the art for various trampoline games that interest older children and will include, for example, sports and sporting events.
Moreover, one disadvantage of trampolines is that they can take up large areas of space. Some sports and recreational activities, on the other hand, often require large, open spaces (such as fields, etc.) in order to played properly. People often cannot play or practice sports in the same area as the trampoline for fear that the trampoline will interfere with the game.
In addition, trampoline manufacturers recommend that only one person jump at a time on the rebounding mat. Often while one person jumps, others must wait their turn. It would be a significant advancement in the art to provide a new type of trampoline which permits a variety of other sports and recreational activities to be practiced in the same area while the trampoline is in use. Such a device is disclosed herein.
A trampoline having a safety enclosure that surrounds the rebounding surface is disclosed. However, the trampoline also has an independent game playing accessory that is positioned between two of the poles. In some embodiments, the game playing accessory may be a soccer net that is positioned on the ground between two of the trampoline legs. The soccer net is designed such that it will function as a soccer goal.
In other embodiments, the game playing accessory may be a rebound panel that is made of flexible material. The rebounding panel may be, depending upon the embodiment, positioned between the trampoline legs such that it is below the rebounding surface or may be positioned between the support poles of the enclosure such that it is above the rebounding surface.
The rebounding panel is designed so that if a ball impacts the rebounding panel, the ball will bounce off the rebounding panel and return to the user (such as a child, teenager, or adult). Thus, the child could practice throwing a ball, kicking a ball, hitting a ball, etc. without being required to spend unnecessary time chasing the ball.
In other embodiments, the game playing accessory may be catch panel. Again, this catch panel may be positioned above the rebounding surface or below the rebounding surface. The catch panel may include a receptive surface. In some embodiments, this receptive surface will include a temporary adhesive (such as Velcro®, hook and loop fasteners, and the like) such that when the ball contacts the catch panel, the receptive surface will engage the ball and/or cause the ball to stick to the receptive surface.
In order that the manner in which the above-recited and other features and advantages of the invention are obtained will be readily understood, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that the drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered to be limiting of its scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:
The presently preferred embodiments of the present invention will be best understood by reference to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like numerals throughout. It will be readily understood that the components of the present invention, as generally described and illustrated in the figures herein, could be arranged and designed in a wide variety of different configurations. Thus, the following more detailed description of the embodiments of the trampoline accessories of the present invention, as represented in the Figures, is not intended to limit the scope of the invention, as claimed, but is merely representative of presently preferred embodiments of the invention.
As described in greater detail above, trampolines and trampoline systems may be designed with safety enclosures that surround the trampoline's rebounding surface. A typical example of such a trampoline and a safety enclosure is found in the '845 patent. Accordingly, the reader should review the '845 patent for a description of these types of features.
Those of skill in the art will recognize that the system shown in the '845 patent is simply one example of a trampoline and enclosure system that may be used. The accessories within the scope of the present invention may be used with other types of trampoline and enclosure systems. In fact, another type of system, in which the poles that support the enclosure are attached to the trampoline frame via brackets and/or swaging is described U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/684,105 entitled “Trampoline Enclosure Attachment Receptor” (which provisional application is-incorporated herein by reference).
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The trampoline enclosure 12 may be, for example, similar to conventional enclosures, including the enclosure taught in the '845 patent. The enclosure 12 may comprise a plurality of poles 30 that are attached to the legs 18. The poles will extend upwards from the legs 18 such that they are positioned above the rebounding mat 14. As is shown in
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The enclosure 12 also comprises a flexible material 36 that is coupled to the poles 30. In many embodiments, this flexible material 36 comprises netting made of polyethylene, nylon and/or other similar fabrics. The flexible material 36 will surround the periphery of the rebounding mat 14 and will be attached to the rebounding mat 14. As is known in the art, this flexible material 36 is designed to absorb the impact of forces, persons, etc. that collide against the enclosure 12 and prevent these individuals, etc. from falling off the rebounding mat 14. In general, the rebounding mat 14 will be coupled to the flexible material 36 through a variety of different methods, including those known methods disclosed in the '845 patent. However, other embodiments may be constructed in which the mat 14 is coupled to the flexible material 36/enclosure 12 via the methods taught in U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/684,107 (which provisional application is expressly incorporated herein by reference).
The flexible material 36 is also connected to the poles 30. This may occur by tying, adhesives, fasteners, threading the poles 30 through openings in the flexible material 36, and/or other methods of attachment known in the art. Other embodiments may have a portion of the flexible material 36 attached to the attachment pieces 32 via ties, loops, etc. A closable opening 40 may also be added to the enclosure 12 to allow a user to access the interior of the enclosure 12 so that he or she may “jump” on the rebounding mat 14. The opening 40 may be “closed” via the use of adhesive, ties, hook and loop fasteners, and/or other mechanisms. One or more pockets 38 may also be added to hold the user's shoes, wallet, possessions, etc.
The trampoline 10 and enclosure 12 may include one or more independent game playing accessories 60. As used herein, the term “independent game playing accessory” or “game playing accessories” refer to features that are added to the trampoline 10 and/or the enclosure 12 that will allow one or more users to play additional games using the trampoline 10 and/or the enclosure 12. These game playing accessories will generally be positioned between two of the poles 30 and/or two of the legs 18. In some embodiments, the game playing accessory 60 will be positioned above the trampoline's rebound mat 14 such that the accessory is positioned between two or more of the poles 30 that support the enclosure 12. Other embodiments may also be constructed in which the accessory is below the rebounding surface such that the accessory is positioned between two or more of the trampoline legs 18 and/or other portions of the frame 16.
In general, the game playing accessories 60 will be designed such that children, teenagers, or adults, may practice or play sports on the exterior of the trampoline even while another user may be using the trampoline 10 with the enclosure 12. Thus, the game playing accessory 60 will be designed such that a ball 66 (such as a soccer ball, a golf ball, a baseball, a football, etc.) may impact and/or contact the accessory 60. Such exterior use of the game playing accessory 60 will not affect another user jumping on the trampoline.
In one embodiment, the game playing accessory will generally comprise a soccer net 70. This soccer net 70 will be positioned proximate the ground such that it is positioned between two or more of the legs 18 of the trampoline. The soccer net 70 is designed similar to the standard-type soccer goals that are used in conjunction with playing soccer. Thus, the soccer net is designed such that a ball may be kicked into the soccer net 70 as a means of scoring a goal in soccer.
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For decorative purposes, the rebound panel 80 may additionally comprise a target 82 at which the user may aim when kicking/hitting/throwing the ball. In general, the target 82 is a drawing or picture that is added to the panel 80. In some embodiments (including the embodiment shown in
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The catch panel 90 will generally comprise a receptive surface 94 that is designed to engage and/or capture the ball 66. This may be accomplished by having the receptive surface 94 include Velcro®, glue, grip powder (including Stickum™ brand products) and/or other adhesives designed to catch or retain a ball 66. Thus, when the user throws (or kicks, hits, etc.) the ball against the catch panel, the receptive surface will retain the ball 66. Again, one of the advantages of this catch panel 90 is that the user will not have to spend time retrieving the ball 60.
In order to improve the ability of the ball 66 to engage the receptive surface, adhesive 96 may also be added to the ball 66. “Hook and loop” fasteners, which include Velcro® products, may also be used. In these embodiments, the “hook” portion will preferably be on the receptive surface and the “loop” portion will be on the ball so that the ball will be softer and generally more unobtrusive.
As with the rebounding panel 80 discussed above, the receptive surface 94 and/or the catch panel 90 may (as desired) include a target 82 that will make the game more life-like.
Of course, those of skill in the art will recognize that a variety of other types of game playing accessories may likewise be used. Also, those of skill in the art will recognize how these types of game accessories may be attached (via rope, sewing, fasteners, screws, etc.) to the trampoline and/or the trampoline enclosure.
It will also be noted that the balls that are used in conjunction with the game playing accessories may be “real” balls—i.e. regulation golf balls, baseballs, etc. of the type that would be used in an organized sporting event. Of course, other embodiments may be constructed in which the balls used are softer balls, such as balls made of foam, rubber, etc. Other embodiments may have balls (including golf balls, baseballs, etc.) are perforated and/or hollow.
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Although the deflective netting 120 is shown with the soccer net 70, similar types of deflective netting 120 may be used with the rebounding panel 80 or the catch panel 90. Other embodiments may be made in which the netting 120 is used with other of the accessories 60.
The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its structures, methods, or other essential characteristics as broadly described herein and claimed hereinafter. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative, and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims, rather than by the foregoing description. All changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.